Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Virginia Gray

What's this illustration for?

This illustration is for an English curriculum project for young teens. It is an illustration from a book, The Life of Pi & is for Folens Publishing U.K

Do you have to wait for a flash of inspiration - how do you start?

Images generally rush into my head whenever I start a new project, I then put down some rough sketches & work from the best of them.

I illustrate a lot of historical books for children, so often have a lot of research to do to get all the details correct. It is always time well spent because I learn a lot about the subject matter before I begin to draw.

How did you get your start as an illustrator?

I started by being trained as a fashion illustrator & worked in London for many years, but when photos took over from illustrations, I adapted my style to children’s books. I already had quite good figure drawing skills from my fashion work, but all my figures looked about 8 feet tall, so I had to moderate everything from my extravagant fashion style!

Who or what has influenced your work?

I have been inspired by Arthur Rackham for atmosphere & Michael Foreman for his wonderful watercolour style.

Also , as a child I spent many hours looking down a microscope. I found that gave me a sense of looking more closely at everything I observed & it nurtured my visual awareness.

What's your favourite media for creating pictures?

My favourite media is watercolour, inks & pencil.

Do you experience illustrator's block - if so, what do you do about it?

If I get blocked I leave the drawing board & do some displacement activity, i.e go for a walk, play tennis, dig the garden or have a good old whinge to somebody who understands the process. I usually come back refreshed & ready to go again. The flow doesn’t always come immediately & sometimes I take a while to get the feel of a project.

What's the worst thing about being a freelancer?

The worst thing about being a freelancer is the insecurity & not being able to plan too far ahead. I never know what is coming next, but that also has an element of excitement about it, so there is a positive way of looking at it.

Also there is a lot of pressure on occasions to produce your best within a very tight deadline, but I get better with experience.

Lastly, I am my own business manager, so I have to pull lots of strands together to be successful. It can be exhausting!

And the best?

The best thing about being a freelancer is the freedom, working from home, the peace & of course the delight in being able to express myself creatively & earn a reasonable living from it.

I also get pleasure from working on educational books & to know that children may get some positive stimulation from the illustrations.

What are you working on at the moment?

At the moment I’m working on a book about ancient Egypt & a reader for young Nigerian children published by Pearson U.K

Where can we see more of your work?

I am on

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